Testicular cancer is one of the most frequently occurring cancers in men ages 18–35, with teens as young as 15 at risk. Testicular self-exams should be a regular part of a man’s wellness routine for early detection.
According to the American Cancer Society1, in the United States in 2014 there will be more cases of testicular cancer than ever:
- about 8,820 new cases of testicular cancer will be diagnosed.
- about 380 men will die of testicular cancer
Most of these cases (87%) will occur in young and middle-aged men most often between the ages of 15 and 35. That equals a lifetime chance of developing testicular cancer of roughly 1 in 270. While this cancer is not as common as other types of cancer, it is still a matter of concern for many men. And as with most cancers, early detection can have a significant effect on survival rates. For example, if testicular cancer is identified when it is still localized (the cancer is still only in the testicle), the survival rate is 99%. But if the cancer has a chance to spread, the survival rate is only 74%2. That is why early detection, through testicular self-exam, is so important. The disease, is able to be found by the patient early, assuring the best prognosis.
- When to examine: You should perform a testicular self-exam (TSE) once a month, right after a warm bath or shower. The heat from the shower or bath relaxes the skin of the scrotum, making it easier to examine the testicles.
- How to examine: Place pads of your fingers behind testicles, with your thumbs on top of your testicle. Using slight pressure, gently roll your testicle between your fingers. Check each testicle separately.
- What to look for: As you roll each testicle between your fingers, check for bumps or lumps along the sides or front. Lumps can range in size, from as small as a grain of rice to a size larger than a marble. Examine the entire surface of the testicle. It should feel completely smooth, without tenderness. In addition to lumps, also look for swelling, discoloration, or changes in testicle size. Note if you experience any pain or ache in your groin or lower abdomen.
- What is normal: During your examination, you will be able to feel where your epididymis (the tube that caries sperm) connects to the testicle, at the top back part of each testicle. This is normal. You may also notice that one of your testicles is slightly larger than the other, but this is also normal.
Testicular cancer is one of the most curable kinds of cancer. Regular TSEs increase your odds of early detection and successful treatment. If you encounter any testicular irregularities (lumps, tenderness, enlargement, etc.) during a TSE, talk to your Physician immediately.
1. American Cancer Society. (2014). What are the key statistics about testicular cancer? Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/cancer/testicularcancer/detailedguide/testicular-cancer-key-statistics
2. American Cancer Society. (2014). Testicular cancer survival rates. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/cancer/testicularcancer/detailedguide/testicular-cancer-survival-rates
3. American Cancer Society. (2014). Testicular Self Exam
4. National Cancer Institute. (2014). Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program0